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date: 15 January 2021


  • Irad Malkin


A varied category of female divinities anthropomorphically perceived as young women (the word nymphē, means also ‘bride’). They inhabit and animately express differentiated nature: *water (rivers, springs, the sea), *mountains, trees, and ‘places’ (regions, towns, states). Their ubiquitous presence in popular imagination, folklore, art, myth, and cult, provides a vivid illustration of ancient pantheism.Cult of Nymphs, particularly associated with caves, is mentioned already in *Homer and corroborated by archaeology. In the Polis cave at *Ithaca, there was a cult both to *Odysseus and the Nymphs; in western *Crete, at Lera was a cave sacred to *Pan and the Nymphs. The grotto on Mt. *Hymettus above Vari (*Attica) was sacred to Pan, *Apollo, and the Nymphs; at the Corycian cave in Phocis were found hundreds of small vessels (aryballoi), thousands of figurines, and 16,000 knucklebones. See caves, sacred.

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